Integrating social and natural science to study coupled human-natural systems, and particularly the interactions of society with the physical environment under conditions of environmental stress.
The goal of my research program is to improve our understanding about highly integrated natural and human processes. Within the context of Land-System Science, I seek to understand how natural and human systems interact through feedback mechanisms and affect land management choices among humans and ecosystem (e.g., carbon storage) and biophysical processes (e.g., erosion) in natural systems. One component of this program involves finding novel methods for data collection (e.g., unmanned aerial vehicles) that can be used to calibrate and validate models of natural systems at the resolution of decision makers. Another component of this program involves the design and construction of agent-based models to formalize our understanding of human decisions and their interaction with their environment in computer code. The most exciting, and remaining part, is coupling these two components together so that we may not only quantify the impact of representing their coupling, but more importantly to assess the impacts of changing climate, technology, and policy on human well-being, patterns of land use and land management, and ecological and biophysical aspects of our environment.
To achieve this overarching goal, my students and I conduct fieldwork that involves the use of state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in combination with ground-based light detection and ranging (LiDAR) equipment, RTK global positioning system (GPS) receivers, weather and soil sensors, and a host of different types of manual measurements. We bring these data together to make methodological advancements and benchmark novel equipment to justify its use in the calibration and validation of models of natural and human processes. By conducting fieldwork at high spatial resolutions (e.g., parcel level) we are able to couple our representation of natural system processes at the scale at which human actors make decisions and improve our understanding about how they react to changes and affect our environment.
land use; land management; agricultural systems; ecosystem function; carbon; remote sensing; field measurements; unmanned aerial vehicle; human decision-making; erosion, hydrological, and agent-based modelling
My general research interest is on modeling of complex natural and human systems systems. Specifically, I am interested in modeling agricultural production systems, that blends the complexity, multiplicity of scales and feedbacks of biophysical interactions in natural ecosystems with the additional intricacies of human decision-making. During last years I have coordinated the development and evaluation of an agent-based of agricultural production systems in the Argentinean Pampas.
Flood Risk Management, Coupled Human-Natural System Modelling, Socio-hydrological Modelling, Agent-Based Modelling, Human Behaviour Modelling, Agent-Based Social Simulation, Hydrological and Hydraulic Modeling, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Mapping, Risk Modelling and Risk Visualization, Disaster Risk Reduction
My research focuses on building a systemic understanding of coupled human-natural systems. In particular, I am interested in understanding how patterns of land-use and land-cover change emerge from human alterations of natural processes and the resulting feedbacks. Study systems of interest include those undergoing agricultural to urban conversion, typically known as urban sprawl, and those in which protective measures, such as wildfire suppression or flood/storm impact controls, can lead to long-term instability.
Dynamic agent- and process-based simulation models are my primary tools for studying human and natural systems, respectively. My past work includes the creation of dynamic, process-based simulation models of the wildland fires along the urban-wildland interface (UWI), and artificial dune construction to protect coastal development along a barrier island coastline. My current research involves the testing, refinement, extension of an economic agent-based model of coupled housing and land markets (CHALMS), and a new project developing a generalized agent-based model of land-use change to explore local human-environmental interactions globally.
Modeling coupled natural/human systems, climate impacts and mitigation policy.
I am investigating the use of machine learning techniques in non-stationary modeling environments to better reproduce aspects of human learning and decision-making in human-natural system simulations.
disaster resilience, flooding, ecosystem services, coupled human natural systems, land use change, hydrology, remote sensing, complexity science
Natural and Social Science Interface (NSSI)
I study human dimensions of natural resource management and resource use by under-represented populations—often in developing nations—to enhance our understanding of conflicts involving land use, natural resources, and conservation from an interdisciplinary, systematic lens. My research spans subjects such as common pool resource management and policy, decentralization, and land use/land cover change drivers and trends relating to population rise and environmental change.